In the never ending world of learning to surf, discovering how to generate speed by manipulating your body and positioning on the wave face is a big deal. Making this happen and making it look good is another deal entirely.

In this post we take a look at the principles of generating speed and the body movements required to get you down the line quicker.

Compression and Extension

As a new & developing surfer you’ll have mastered catching waves, popping up and trimming left and right. On a good wave you’ll ride the face for a long time, but you know there is more, a lot more – you want to go faster! How do those other surfers go so fast you ask yourself?

Of course if you spend enough time around those other more experienced surfers you’ll figure it out, in time. But who has that kind of time?

Take note of the steps below and practice the training exercise and hack your way to surfing faster, quicker.

Compression – Generating speed is all about the compression and extension of your body. As a surfer catches a wave, gravity is what pulls them down the wave face. In order to keep balanced surfers compress their bodies which in turn converts potential energy into kinetic energy. Releasing this stored kinetic energy then gives the surfer a spring board to propel themselves in the desired direction of travel. (down the line)

Extension – From the compressed position at the bottom of a wave a surfer extends their body and lift their arms in the direction of travel, by dong so un weighting the surfboard and directing their body and surfboard back up the wave face.

Repeating this compression and extension motion is how surfers generate down the line speed.

Using these body movements at the right time on the correct parts of the wave means the surfer has a constant supply of renewable energy.

Land activity:

A good way to understand and practice compression and extension is to replicate the basic body movements on the beach as part of your warm up.

– Stand with your feet together / arms by your sides

– Look over your left shoulder and swing both your arms to the left. (Your arms should finish extended and level with your shoulders.)

– Simultaneously allow the pendulum motion of your swing arms to jump your body sideways landing a metre or so to your left.

– Repeat the exercise on either side of your body and gradually bend your knees just as you swing your arms.

Wave activity:

From a compressed position on your surfboard (at the bottom of a wave) over exaggerate your upward arm swing (until your arms are just below your shoulders)

Whilst dong this eye the top third section of the wave in front of you and aim to propel your surfboard towards it.

Once you reach your desired section, angle the nose of your surfboard back down the wave face slightly so that you begin to drop back down the wave face to gain speed (gravity)

Repeat this action as much as you need to generate speed in surfing.


Getting the timing right with this body movement is key – You’ll find examples of surfers generating speed in everywhere. Make sure you do some homework, watch some video clips or pay extra attention to experienced surfers on your beach.

Unlocking the movements to generating speed opens a whole new world in your surfing progression.

Jorrin Massingham is the owner of Cornish Wave Adventure Activities. Born in South Africa Jorrin moved to the UK aged 9 before setting out to gain skills and experiences further afield.

Passionate about adventure travel and the outdoors, Jorrin gained wide ranging experience from around the world in travel, tourism and outdoor activities through a variety of solo travel, adventures and job roles.

Currently living in Newquay, Cornwall, when not delivering activities through Cornish Wave, Jorrin can be found planning new adventures both at home and overseas.

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